Award-winning author, Christie Craig, is my guest, today. She answers some good questions about self vs traditional publishing.
You write for two different publishers and do self-publishing, which route do you recommend for new authors?
A lot of writers find themselves trying to decide between self-publishing and the traditional publishing route. Frankly, it’s a great time for writers because we do have options that weren’t available a few years ago.
There is no right or wrong decision; it really is about what is right for that author and where they are in their career. The self-publishing route offers the benefit of making your book available to readers, without facing possible rejection and revisions. And that can be a wonderful thing, as long as your book is ready to be published. That said, most traditionally published authors will tell you that they are glad their first books didn’t get published because they learned so much during the journey — even though at the time, they were certain the books were fabulous.
A lot of authors who have written a book that just didn’t fit into a genre niche are finding success in self-publishing because readers aren’t nearly as picky about genre specifics as publishers have to be.
A writer serious about her career and considering self publishing should attempt to make sure the end product is as close to perfect as possible. This may or may not require the hiring of others to help you through the process. So the overhead of getting a book ready to self-publish — including editing, line editing, formatting, and cover design, may vary.
However, as many self-published authors are finding, having the book available doesn’t ensure readers will buy it. Self-publishing means self-marketing, and that can take a lot of writing time away from an author. That said, today even traditionally published authors have to spend a lot of time marketing themselves as well. Some authors simply are better at promoting their work than others. And while there have been numerous success stories of authors who have built themselves a very lucrative career through self-publishing, others who followed this path are not finding the financial gains as they had hoped. It bears mentioning, however, that many new authors who have gone the traditional path of publishing are equally unhappy about their financial gain. Also, many of the traditionally published authors may find their contracts dropped if sales are really down — something a self-published author doesn’t have to worry about.
In most instances, writers who have already made a name for themselves, and have a fan base, are finding the self-publishing route an easier path than do new writers. However, the truth is that anything and everything is possible.
If a friend came to me with a first book, and this friend simply wasn't a marketing whiz, I might suggest they attempt the traditional route first; but if that route didn't pan out and she felt her book was ready, then I would encourage them to take it the self-publishing route. That said, if this person has a viable marketing plan to ensure that her book goes out big, I’d say her chances of earning more financial gain might be with the self-publishing route than the traditional route because of the smaller royalty rate earned through traditional publishing.
Having a publisher behind you does NOT mean your book will be any more successful, but a publisher’s name still carries some weight to some readers and traditional bookstores. Building a name with a publisher behind you is a little easier than building it on your own. Another thing to take into consideration is, unless you are one of the talented writers who have the ability to do everything from designing a cover to a final editing, there is overhead in self-publishing.
So as you can see, both routes can bring success and both come with some positives and negatives to consider.
Thirteen things you’ll learn from reading Murder, Mayhem and Mama:
1) Grief sucks. Love heals.
2) Believe it or not, sometimes mama does know best. Even when she’s dead.
3) Painting your toenails is equivalent to a happy pill.
4) Sometimes there’s a hell of lot more to our dreams than we think.
5) When a tough guy resorts to sniffing a girl’s sweater that she left behind, he might as well give up the bachelor pad, he’s on the road to falling in love.
6) A guy who offers you a shoulder during a meltdown and doesn’t try to cop a feel, just may be a keeper.
7) When a guy says all he wants to do is sleep with you, he might not be talking sex, you might just be his answer to insomnia. Then again, he’ll probably want sex when he’s had some sleep.
8) When all else fails, try saying the magic words: please and thank you. It’s a manners thing.
9) Be leery of opening your boyfriends medicine cabinet, it’s not just what you might find, but what might fall out and bounce right into the toilet. Explaining how his 36 pack of condoms got wet could be embarrassing.
10) While being a better bitch isn’t something we should aspire to, learning to stand up for oneself is definitely goal worthy.
11) Sharing food off each other’s plate could lead to sharing a toothbrush. And after that all bets, and possibly the clothes, are coming off.
12) Bad habits die hard. Then again, the sergeant general doesn’t say anything about smoking after you’re dead. Just ask Mama.
13) Take a man’s favorite leather jacket, and he might offer you his heart to get it back.
A lot of writers are now questioning if they need an agent in today’s publishing world. What is your advice?
- If you know upfront that you are going the traditional route, I think having an agent is as important today as it was in the past. Maybe even more so. With self-publishing, the answer depends on the circumstances. Many of today’s agents are assisting their authors in the self-publishing route by handling everything from securing covers to copyediting duties, and the author/agent split can well exceed the traditional 15% agents normally charge. While I think authors need to be careful about the deals they make with agents in the self-publishing arena, I personally can say that my agent is as much of an asset to me in my self-publishing ventures, as she is in traditional publishing. She’s served as editor, assisted in the formatting process and uploading of books, and she’s obligated to listen to me whine. That alone earns her that 15%. LOL. In all seriousness, though, most authors are going the self-published route without agents. For those who are doing both — and traditionally publishing for two publishers, such as myself — having an agent is critical, in my opinion.
We've all heard the horror stories about the dreaded revisions that editors can request. Is it true, and how should an author deal with them?
- Ah, revision hell. We’ve all heard the stories about an editor coming back with a 50 page revision letter. While nothing that severe has ever happened to me, it very well may have happened to other authors. However, I don’t think that’s the norm. This isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten revisions, or that I have agreed with all the revisions my editors wanted.I always take try to take time going over all the editor’s points. I try to let some time pass before answering revision requests. I also follow the same rule I did with raising my children: Pick my battles. If an editor wants something tweaked that I don’t feel is needed but won’t change the work, why not give in on that point and save the debates for things I don’t think are good ideas. First, I consider the reasons the editors feels the changes are needed. If I see her point, I may come up with my own solution to fix the issue rather than the one she might have suggested. I’ve never had an editor disregard my suggestions. With over thirteen books out, I have never felt an editor was unreasonable in their requests for revisions. But I also have never changed something in a manuscript that I really didn’t want to change. You can’t be afraid to stand up for your work, but neither can you refuse to listen to their ideas. One solution is s to figure out a way to fix the problem the editor has with the scene/plot point with a way in which you feel comfortable. But I will say this — more times than not, I was happier with the manuscript after the revisions than before.Thanks Sia for having me here today. And I’d also like to offer an e-copy of Murder, Mayhem and Mama to one lucky poster.
You can find Christie: Website, Facebook, Twitter